Posted on June 16, 2024

White House ‘Equity’ Requirements Holding Back EV Charging Station Construction, Internal Docs Show

Joseph Simonson, Washington Free Beacon, June 12, 2024

In 2021, the Biden administration pledged it would build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030. So far, it’s built seven.

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But internal memos from the Department of Transportation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, as well as interviews with those who are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the electric vehicle charging station project, say the delay is in large part a result of the White House’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

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Shortly after taking office, the president signed an executive order mandating that the beneficiaries of 40 percent of all federal climate and environmental programs should come from “underserved communities.” The order also established the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which monitors agencies such as the Department of Transportation to ensure the “voices, perspectives, and lived realities of communities with environmental justice concerns are heard in the White House and reflected in federal policies, investments, and decisions.”

In order to qualify for a grant, applicants must “demonstrate how meaningful public involvement, inclusive of disadvantaged communities, will occur throughout a project’s life cycle.” What “public involvement” means is unclear. But the Department of Transportation notes it should involve “intentional outreach to underserved communities.”

That outreach, the Department of Transportation states, can take the form of “games and contests,” “visual preference surveys,” or “neighborhood block parties” so long as the grant recipient provides “multilingual staff or interpreters to interact with community members who use languages other than English.”

“This all just slows down construction,” says Jim Meigs, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who focuses on federal regulation.

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How these equity requirements are relevant to the construction of a single electric vehicle charging station is unclear, Meigs said. But all applicants for federal funding must in many cases submit reports that can total hundreds of pages about how they will pursue “equity” every step along the way.

This leads to delays and increases costs throughout the construction process, one senior Department of Transportation official told the Free Beacon. “Highly Qualified” applications, internal memos state, must “promote local inclusive economic development and entrepreneurship such as the use of minority-owned businesses.”

That can take the form of funding “support services to help train, place, and retain people in good-paying jobs or registered apprenticeships, with a focus on women, people of color, and others that are underrepresented in infrastructure jobs.” A firm’s “workplace culture” should “promote the entry and retention of underrepresented populations.”

“These onerous diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements handcuff professionals from making proper evaluations and prevent the government/public from funding the most deserving projects, instead funneling money towards less qualified applicants,” the senior Department of Transportation official said.

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